Welcome to the World, Baby Girl!
Fannie Flagg / Author Random House Inc $25.95 (496p) ISBN 978-
Because so much of Flagg's third novel takes place in the 1970s media-celebrity echelons of New York City, it doesn't offer the regional and historical color and texture of its predecessor, Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe. Instead, Flagg's achievement here lies in a well-choreographed story of loyalty and survival that zigzags deftly across the post-war years, panning in on the never-changing decency of Elmwood Springs, Mo., then pulling back to watch national TV news devolve into sensationalism--all the while drawing us into the compelling life of Dena Nordstrom. Star of America's most popular morning news show, Dena shuts herself down and shuts men out for painful reasons that are unknown even to her. Only after the stress of ambush- and sound-byte journalism brings on a hemorrhaging ulcer does Dena slowly unearth the scandal that, when Dena was four, drove her mother from Elmwood Springs, hometown of the war hero father that Dena never knew. That her mother's nemesis is a newspaper gossipmonger is nicely ironic, although her mother's secret shame seems slightly larger than life. In contrast, Dena's college friend Sookie and great aunt Elner are reminders of how well Flagg can cook up memorable women from the most down-to-earth ingredients, while a cameo by Tennessee Williams is uncannily true to life. Fans may be sorry at first to leave Elmwood Springs for the big city, but even the most reluctant will get wrapped up in Dena's search for the truth about her family and her past. Author tour; Random House audio. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 08/31/1998